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Safeguarding against the rising threats of bots, scams, and misinformation in APAC

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June 26, 2023 | 4 min read

In today's digital world, the rapid spread of information through social media platforms and instant messaging has become both a boon and a bane

While users have easy access to information, they also face the risks associated with scams, fake accounts, and AI-generated internet bots. Singapore, in particular, has witnessed the rise of such issues, impacting the younger generation and leading to dire financial losses - another dangerous threat as ChatGPT gains prominence is the prevalence of fake news and misinformation.

With the rise of generative AI and fraudsters having unfettered and faster access to larger data sets, how can individuals and organizations keep their identity, data and money safe?

The pervasive threat of bots, scams and misinformation

Bots and automated accounts have added a new layer of complexity to the issue of online fraud, last year, it was revealed that bad bots accounted for over a quarter of website traffic in Asia Pacific.

With approximately 10% of daily active Twitter users being bots and platforms like TikTok removing millions of fake accounts, the influence and prevalence of bots are significant. Due to the lack of strict regulations governing their activity, these social platforms play a substantial role in creating fake news and manipulating online public opinion. They can infiltrate groups of people and propagate specific ideas, thereby influencing young adults and posing risks to society.

Despite efforts by social media networks to clamp down on bots, they can still create fake accounts, amplify messages, generate fake followers and likes, and mimic the behaviour of real users. Additionally, the emergence of deep fakes such as AI avatars used for political purposes, further exacerbates the challenge.

These advancements in tech have also sparked a surge in phishing campaigns, with cybercriminals using personalized messages and AI-powered techniques to steal data and money. Ransomware malware, often spread through deceptive emails or mobile messages, can have devastating consequences for both individuals and organizations.

Therefore, it is imperative to recognize the ominous threat posed by bots, as they enable high-speed abuse, attacks on websites and mobile apps, and the theft of personal information and financial data.

Awareness, prevention and protection

At an individual level, it is crucial to raise awareness and adhere to important guidelines. Users should promptly report or move suspicious-looking emails or messages to the spam box without clicking on any embedded links. This precautionary measure applies even if the message appears to come from a reputable business, such as a bank or a telecommunications provider. Furthermore, it is essential to use strong and unique passwords with complex combinations for different websites, considering the prevalence of data breaches worldwide.

With fake news, even if you trust the news on the first go, always verify. Verify the information with multiple sources, before taking any action.

On social media platforms, users should be cautious of spam bots or posts offering enticing "free giveaways" or "free followers." If something seems too good to be true, it likely is, and users should exercise caution to protect their data from falling into the wrong hands. It is imperative for users to approach information on the internet with scepticism and prioritize data protection.

For organizations and businesses, the responsibility of safeguarding the organization and its users is outsized. At the very base level, C-suite leaders should ensure that their cybersecurity technology remains up to date. Regular checks and source verification are necessary to identify and mitigate risks associated with unusual spikes in web traffic, potentially indicating bot targeting.

IT teams should also block outdated user browsers, as well as restrict access to unknown hosting providers and proxy services. It is important for organizations to realize, that even now, the volume and sophistication of bots make the problem beyond the means and resources of most organizations’ IT teams. If scammers are using AI tools to commit fraud, then fight fire with fire.

When it comes to protecting their users, organizations should prioritize education and consistently reinforce the importance of safety in their communications. Users need reassurance that organizations continuously update their toolkits to counter the latest fraud techniques. Placing safety and protection in front of the mind of the user should be an organization’s key priority.

As generative AI gains traction, the risks associated with these issues will likely intensify. By taking proactive steps and staying ahead of the curve, Asia can establish a safer and more secure digital landscape for all.

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